By that time, they were already beginning to think about Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca, which is in the narrow part of southern Mexico that bends east toward Central America, is sometimes known as “the land of the seven moles”—a mole being a thick sauce made from as many as thirty ingredients, in a process so laborious that it puts most complicated Continental dishes into the category of Pop-Tart preparation by comparison. Having spent some time in Oaxaca many years ago, I knew that it also turns out an astonishing variety of the small treats Mexicans call antojitos—many of which consist of something in or on masa, the dough made from alkaline-treated corn kernels. Oaxaca is also known as a place where artisanal mescal thrives and tequila is spoken of as an inferior commercial tipple that might as well have been produced in the Coca-Cola bottling plant. In recent years, Oaxaca’s food scene, largely based on the traditional ingredients and methods of its indigenous people, has been celebrated by some icons of the American food world. Once Abigail and Brian decided on Oaxaca, I was quick to say that I would soon be visiting. “I’ll just give you a couple of months to find your way around,” I said to Abigail. “If you find your way around to a spot that serves a superior mole negro, all the better.”
more from Calvin Trillin at The New Yorker here.